HRepublicans on the administration’s oversight committee are again demanding information from the Biden administration about staffers who hold millions of dollars in student loans.
The group, led by Representatives James Comer (R-KY), a ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, and Virginia Foxx (R-NC), a ranking member of the Education and Labor Committee, sought information on which staff members have loans and whether or not they received ethics waivers in order to work on the White House’s $500 billion student debt bailout.
BIDEN’S CLOSE TIES WITH HIGHER EDUCATION EXAMINED AFTER STUDENT LOAN BAILOUT
“We are investigating whether Biden administration officials who worked on the student loan bailout will personally benefit from this financial windfall,” says the letter, which was sent to White House attorney Stuart Delery. “It is unethical for public servants to develop policies from which they could benefit financially.”
The letter requests information on whether Biden administration appointees have any conflicts of interest and whether they or their families would benefit from the bailout. Bloomberg reported in May that 30 of Biden’s top aides held up to $4.7 million in student loans. Many lower-level employees didn’t have to report, nor did those who owed less than $10,000, meaning the grand total is likely to be higher.
To qualify for Biden’s $10,000 per borrower forgiveness program, recipients will need to earn less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 as a household, and those who received a Pell Grant can get up to $20. $000 canceled. Biden administration staffers are not exempt.
Foxx and Comer previously wrote to the Office of Government Ethics in June to raise ethical questions about potential conflicts of interest.
The Washington Examiner contacted the White House for comment.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the letter during Thursday’s press briefing. She said she hadn’t seen it and didn’t answer the question directly.
“It’s going to be a tremendous relief to so many Americans, who may now be able to put money on a house, who may be able to start a family,” she said. “Ninety percent of the money will go to people who make $75,000 a year or less.”
“Does the White House think the aides who worked there were biased in any way if they themselves had student debt?” asked a reporter, pressing the question a second time.
“Again, I’m not going to respond to a letter that I haven’t seen,” Jean-Pierre said.
REPUBLICANS CRY OVER WHITE HOUSE STAFF WITH MILLIONS IN STUDENT LOANS
The loans program is estimated to cost $2,000 per taxpayer, people who didn’t go to college, don’t have a loan, or have paid off their loans foot the bill for those with loan balances .
“We are concerned that politicians may have committed serious ethical violations if they provided advice and guidance or wrote the bailout from which they benefited financially,” the letter said.
Comer and Foxx are looking for a list of all Biden administration employees who worked on the loan forgiveness policy, all documents and communications indicating whether those employees have any debt that would be affected, copies of any waivers ethical commitments requested or granted, and a signed copy of all ethical commitments concerning them.
Biden denied personally knowing whether or not his staff members had loans.
White House Office of Government Ethics Director Emory Rounds responded to an earlier letter from Foxx and Comer by saying the office “generally does not directly advise, counsel, monitor, or retain the records of millions of executive branch employees,” meaning any ethics waivers were “not available from a single source.”
Rounds also wrote that his office does not have access to records indicating which employees are working on which administrative policies.
According Bloomberg, nearly 20% of all assistants required to file returns reported holding student loans, which collectively totaled between $2 million and $4.7 million. A staff member said he owes between $500,000 and $1 million.
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White House staffers earned an average salary of $95,649 in 2021, well above the national average but below the $125,000 income threshold to qualify for the student debt program.